The Killer Jargon of #SXSWi, Part 2: Bring the Gibberish

See Part 1 here.

If South by Southwest Interactive (or SXSWi, for those in the know) is good for anything, it’s breaking news that makes no freaking sense whatsoever if you don’t already know the names of the companies and apps at issue.

I was thinking about sending gibberish tweets involving SXSW-style jargon using the #SXSWi hashtag, just for fun and because I’m kind of a snarky ass. My Twitter handle is @wellslawoffice, though, so it doesn’t look all that credible coming from me.

I heard Facebook crimped the OS for Orange Gazelle right as the Zebra Sponge purchase was undergoing Slideshow review. Muskox is gonna be *pissed*.


I could start a @BreakingInteractiveNews account, I suppose….

Most of my ideas are pretty mean, could possibly lead to at least some civil suits, and really just need to remain ideas in my twisted brain…… Not that I’ve ever let that stop me before.

Location-based apps seem to be all the rage right now. Hmmmmmm……. Continue reading


The Killer Jargon of #SXSWi, Part 1: WTH Are You Talking About?

South by Southwest, or SXSW, as it is more commonly known these days (or #SXSW, as it more commonly appears in online references these days) is now underway, with the Interactive portion of the festival, or #SXSWi, having begun this past Thursday. I attended this part of the event as a full-fledged badge holder in 2012 and 2013, and I may do so again some day, but there is also some value in observing the festivities from afar.

One aspect of SXSWi that particularly jumps out at me is the near-total inscrutability of much of its news and gossip, especially with regard to the quest to be this year’s “it” app. Take this headline, posted to Facebook by my friend Jen: “Twitter cuts Meerkat off from its social graph just as SXSW gets started.”

Literally nothing in that headline, or the comments to Jen’s post, makes any sense at all without heaping amounts of context. I initially just assumed that Meerkat and Periscope are companies, or apps, or websites, or programming languages, or something else tech-y. It’s just funny how the tech world has normalized jargon so much. Continue reading


The “Middle Finger Gesture” and Accidental Porn

I was doing a Google image search for someone giving the “middle finger gesture,” as I’ll call it, for professional purposes. (Yes, I have the greatest job in the universe.) Google allows you to narrow your search to images that are labeled as “free to use or share, even commercially,” which is handy if you know how to confirm that they really are free to use or share.

Anyway, amongst the search results, I noticed an image at Wikimedia Commons simply entitled “Middle finger gesture.jpg.” This title fails to account for two features of the image that seem important: Continue reading


What I’m Reading, February 2, 2015

Why I Am Not a Maker, Debbie Chachra, The Atlantic, January 23, 2015

Every once in a while, I am asked what I “make.” A hack day might require it, or a conference might ask me to describe “what I make” so it can go on my name tag.

I’m always uncomfortable with it. I’m uncomfortable with any culture that encourages you take on an entire identity, rather than to express a facet of your own identity (“maker,” rather than “someone who makes things”). But I have much deeper concerns.

An identity built around making things—of being “a maker”—pervades technology culture. There’s a widespread idea that “People who make things are simply different [read: better] than those who don’t.”

Genetic Testing and Tribal Identity, Rose Eveleth, The Atlantic, January 26, 2015 Continue reading



It was really only a matter of time before someone started using their smartphone to track their significant other’s movements openly. That is, that someone would proclaim, loudly and proudly, that they digitally stalk their S.O., and offer justifications for it. Here’s Samantha Williams at The Independent (h/t Lucy Cummin):

I can’t remember exactly when I decided to start Geotagging my partner, but I do know why. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him; I just wanted to build on that trust with cold hard evidence. [Emphasis added.]

She says that she trusts her boyfriend. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. She says that she doesn’t not trust him.



That’s not really the same thing as trusting someone, and she gives this away in the very next two paragraphs:

Friends who think my behaviour is creepy, controlling or borderline obsessive have pointed out that just because you know where someone is doesn’t mean they are not in that place cheating on you. That’s true, but this is something which means he’d have a harder time getting away with it.

It is one of those small concessions you make in relationships. I don’t complain if he leaves the toilet seat up, he enables an app which allows me to track his location. That’s just how our love works. [Emphasis added.]

Look, these two can do their relationship however they want. I’m just not comfortable defining “trust” in this way. If you think you need evidence of your partner’s fidelity (or whatever) to feel better, as far as I am concerned you already do not trust them, and there is no app for that. Continue reading


She Was Geeky Before It Was Cool

I regret that I never got to hang out with Grace Hopper, who helped pioneer computers, and who totally and awesomely did not put up with David Letterman’s lip:

She sounds like she was an epic badass:

Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was a remarkable woman who grandly rose to the challenges of programming the first computers. During her lifetime as a leader in the field of software development concepts, she contributed to the transition from primitive programming techniques to the use of sophisticated compilers. She believed that “we’ve always done it that way” was not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so.


What I’m Reading, January 7, 2015

Will Google Cars Eviscerate the Personal Injury Bar? Eric Turkewitz, New York Personal Injury Law Blog, December 23, 2014

With human error crashes reduced by software that automatically stops or slows the car, the number of broken bodies and cars will be reduced. The number of deaths will be reduced. Your insurance premiums will be (theoretically) reduced.

And that means the need for my services as a personal injury attorney will be reduced. (Likewise reduced will be the need for trauma health teams and emergency rooms, not to mention car body shops.)

Has anyone ever cheered being put out of business? I am. Because I drive, too.

See also Personal ​Injury Lawyer Says Self-Driving Cars Will End His Business, Damon Lavrinc, Jalopnik, December 31, 2014

The Untouchables: America’s Misbehaving Prosecutors, And The System That Protects Them, Radley Balko, Huffington Post, August 1, 2013 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, January 6, 2015

Hollywood’s Disability ‘Inspiration Porn’ Is Terrible, but Here’s How We Can Fix It, Holly Eagleson, TakePart, November 21, 2014

The general consensus is that American Horror Story: Freak Show is a gift. Sure, the story lines have been teetering on the rails for the last two episodes. But it’s one of a pathetically few places you’ll see a talent like Mat Fraser on television.

Fraser has phocomelia, a congenital disorder that causes malformed appendages. On AHS, he beautifully embodies Paul the Illustrated Seal, a tattooed member of a 1950s freak show under threat of nefarious forces. Unlike so many infantilizing roles for disabled actors, Paul isn’t stripped of his eroticism; he has affairs with two different female characters on the show. Play on, player!

It’s a breakout role for Fraser, a performer who’s well known on the cabaret and burlesque circuits and is also a drummer and playwright. Fraser is fierce by any measure, even more so for his perspective on his new-found fame. In an excellent interview with The Onion’s AV Club, he puts media eager to exploit his story directly in his crosshairs: “I’ve already turned down two offers from really mainstream people, too f—ing mainstream, to do a life-story interview, because I am not interested in ‘inspiration porn.’”

That term may not be familiar, but you know the concept. It’s that soft-focus prime-time sitdown about a “heroic” soldier who lost limbs in battle. The relentless memes of developmentally disabled people as Successories posters. The documentary about a person triumphing over a disfiguring disease to run a marathon and climb a mountain. It’s all to celebrate ability in many its forms, if you’re being generous. In reality, it’s a clarion call to the able-bodied: If these less-thans can do so much with so little, by God, you can do anything! (Cue “reach for the stars” graphic.)

Consent, Emma Holten, Hysteria #5 ‘Nonsense’ Continue reading


What I’m Reading, January 2, 2015

On Mishearing “Get Consent” as “Don’t Have Sex”, Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner, Brute Reason, December 25, 2014

Countless writers, educators, and activists have weighed in on what consent is and what it is not and how to communicate around it. If you Google “what is consent,” the first page has numerous resources meant to help young people learn what consent is, such as this one and this one. Don’t like reading? There are graphics!

Yet (some) men insist that this is all so mysterious and perilous that they have no choice but to avoid the whole enterprise altogether.

I don’t want anyone to be lonely, insecure, and sexually unfulfilled. I don’t want anyone who wants to have sex to be unable to have it. I want everyone to have the confidence to pursue and find the types of relationships they’re interested in. I want everyone to feel worthy and valuable even if they haven’t found a partner yet.

But I also want people to pursue all of this ethically. That means that if you’re ever unsure if someone is consenting, you stop and ask. And if you don’t think you are able to do that, then you should abstain from sex until you are able to do it.

People Don’t Hate Millennials, Laura Bradley, Slate, December 26, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 22, 2014

It’s OK Not to Be Offended But Not OK to Be Offended That Others Are Offended, Jill Pantozzi, The Mary Sue, December 17, 2014

Let’s stick to the less violent responses. You’re personally offended by someone being offended by a thing. Offended enough to comment on an article. What are you actually saying about yourself? You’re saying you don’t care enough to want a change for the better in the society you live in but you care enough to tell other people you don’t care?

I mean, really?

Here’s the thing: It’s totally fine if you don’t want to change the world for the better. I, and others, may judge you for it, but that’s totally your prerogative. You can also think the world doesn’t need changing. You’d be wrong, but you can certainly believe that. You don’t have to take up a cause or join ours. That’s ok. You also don’t have to consider issues we take with media on the same level as world issues. We write about these things because they mean something to us, and we believe what’s portrayed in the media has real-world implications. And we’d like others to know it.

GOP’s new fracking hypocrisy: What a Texas battle reveals about Republican dogma, Kyle Schmidlin, Salon, December 15, 2014 Continue reading